Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

A recent Forrester report has brought some sobering home truths about the advertising industry to the fore.  Titled The End of Advertising as We Know It, by James L. McQuivey and Keith Johnson, the report says chief marketing officers (CMOs) should be “shifting billions from ad interruptions to branded relationships”.

Over the years, advertising has become a natural part of daily life. Love it or hate it, as the report points out, advertising has funded the global economy more effectively than any other source over the past few years. But times have changed and consumers don’t need advertising in the same way any more. Neither do they have the time for or the interest in interruption-driven media, choosing rather to trust intelligent agents to guide their decisions.

The report gives advertising its due, saying it played a role in shaping culture, delivering information about products to consumers and contributing to the economy. But digital tools can now do what advertising does, and more.

The report notes that it is the consumer who has changed. Today consumers are ready to create deeper relationships with brands and companies that matter to them. CMOs should be taking steps to create these deeper relationships, embedding the brand’s personality into conversation, the report advises.

Digital came onto the scene offering exciting new ways for advertisers to do things, for the first time offering a platform that provided the opportunity for real-time measurement and accountability. Today, digital provides viable alternatives for many of the things advertising used to do. The Internet, for instance, allows consumers to spend more conveniently and frequently, thereby feeding the economy. It provides brands with access to markets it may not have had before, and thanks to reviews on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and online forums, consumers don’t need advertising to tell them what a product does – they can learn about it far more effectively from their peer groups. Though advertising can still do all this, digital does it better.

While CMOs won’t abandon advertising altogether, the report says, they are starting to move their budgets away from platforms such as display advertising and interruptions. According to the report, US research indicates that 38% of online adult users are trending towards computer-based ad blocking and ad avoidance devices. Clearly, something else is required, and this is likely to be improved conversations with customers and more meaningful relationships with them.

According to the report, customers are even willing to pay for effective relationships – they want relationships that will help them get the products and services they value, and they want the delivery of that value to be convenient. Moreover, thanks to mobile, brands are now within consumers’ reach 24/7.

The big take-out: A recent Forrester report says advertising as we know it is changing, with CMOs more likely in the future to assign budget to digital platforms that promote the creation of meaningful relationships.

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